Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Government names seven candidates for new court

Kurniawan Hari and A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has named seven candidates for the three seats on the Constitutional Court bench as the Aug. 17 deadline to set up the court draws near.

"The nominees will be submitted to the President immediately," Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra said on Tuesday.

The seven, mostly scholars, are: H.A.S. Natabaya, a professor of law at Palembang-based Sriwijaya University; Jimly Asshiddiqie, a professor of law at the University of Indonesia; Muktie Fajar, a professor at Brawijaya University; Hamid Awaluddin, an expert on law and a member of the General Elections Commission (KPU); Talib Puspokusumo, the Indonesian Consul General in Houston, Texas; Harun Kamil, chairman of the Functional Group faction at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR); and I Dewa Gede Atmadja, a professor at Bali-based Udayana University.

The candidates were picked by a team comprising Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Attorney General M.A. Rachman and Yusril.

Yusril said the President would pick three out of the seven candidates and announce the selection on Thursday, with their installment scheduled for Sunday.

Under the new Constitutional Court Law passed on Aug. 6, the President, the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives (DPR) are to nominate three judges each, with a total of nine justices to sit on the court.

The House announced over the weekend that they were in the process of selecting its three justices from among its initial nominees. Meanwhile, Djuhad Mahja, who was nominated by the United Development Party (PPP) faction, had withdrawn his candidacy, bringing the number of candidates to 13.

In his letter to the PPP faction, Djuhad did not explain the reasons for his withdrawal.

Separately, a legislator expressed his disappointment over the extremely poor response from the public regarding its candidates.

Member of House Commission II Teras Narang said the commission had been expecting the public to respond positively in evaluating the candidates before their two-day fit and proper test, which begins today. Commission II is overseeing the selection of the House's candidates for the Constitutional Court bench.

"Our commission expected constructive public input, but we have only received a few (unsubstantiated) comments from people on the Internet," Teras said on Tuesday, referring to comments submitted anonymously to the Commission's website.

Deputy commission chairman Hamdan Zoelva, however, said although the commission had received very little feedback, it would take into consideration relevant discourse in the mass media.

Teras was speaking at a meeting covering the selection with National Consortium for Legal Reform activists Firmansyah Arifin and Bambang Widjojanto.

During the meeting, Firmansyah demanded that Constitutional Law experts, such as Sri Soemantri of Bandung-based Padjadjaran University, Ismail Suny of the University of Indonesia and Soly Lubis of Medan-based North Sumatra University, should also be included among the nominees.

He also urged legislators not to select those candidates who were close to the cut-off age for Constitutional Court justices. The new law stipulates that serving justices must not be more than 67 years of age.

Former Supreme Court judges Benyamin Mangkoedilaga and Edith Nababan are both 66 years old.